Elder fraud is likely to be a growing problem, according to the FBI. The elderly population is growing and seniors rack up more than $3 billion in losses annually due to fraud.
“Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite. They also usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers,” states this FBI report.
“Additionally, seniors may be less inclined to report fraud because they don’t know how, or they may be too ashamed at having been scammed. They might also be concerned that their relatives will lose confidence in their abilities to manage their own financial affairs. And when an elderly victim does report a crime, they may be unable to supply detailed information to investigators.”
These are the FBI’s tips for protecting yourself if you are a senior citizen:
Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the perpetrator.
Search online for the contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have likely posted information online about individuals and businesses trying to run scams.
Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or a loved one.
Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.
Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a pop-up.
Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions to place protections on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.